Keep learning, keep growing

(this is what I shared with my nephew and niece)

Hi Nikku and Aryan,
Hope you guys are doing well and enjoying a well deserved break! ūüėÉ
Many congratulations to you for doing well in the examinations. Board examinations were an extremely daunting phase in my life too, but later as I’ve realised, sometimes the¬†pressure/expectations can be detrimental.
And I wanted to share some personal experiences with you¬†along with¬†some of stuff that I’ve myself learnt.
And please! In no way am I insinuating that I’m wiser or I know it all.
I too get confused about how I should live my life or which choices should I make – on a daily basis.
But I do like to read and introspect. And this exercise alone has made me a more positive and giving person.
Also, I know that we have not really spoken a lot.
And that’s why I’m taking refuge behind an email, as it’s much easier for me to share this.¬†
One final disclaimer (sorry for dragging this), but as you are dear to me, I won’t be politically correct.
However, and you have my promise, that I shall be honest.
Ok, here goes. I’m sharing some pointers with you, which I wish someone would have shared with a 17 year old me:
1) First and foremost, the one area where you should invest your time, is to get absolutely precise with your language. We are embracing an age where virtual connects are becoming a norm and time is becoming an increasingly rare commodity. To sincerely communicate your feelings to your loved ones and to put your argument across professionally, in a well-articulated form, the one skill that will enrich all your relationships is your command on language. Invest in it like you’d invest money for future.
2) Ask Questions. As I was growing up, I was very self-conscious that I was brought up in a small town, I’d middle class sensibilities and in some way I was less as compared to others. As a result, I was a bit timid or shy and hardly spoke up during classes or reached out to people/teachers/professors after classes. But now, I’m always the guy who asks questions, lots of them as it has become so difficult to ascertain whether something is really true or fake news/propaganda. I was too self-aware but later I¬†realized¬†that no one really cares, everyone is just so busy with their lives.
3) Journal. There is a profound quotation:¬†I’m not perfect, neither I was nor will I ever be, but I shall always strive to be better than yesterday. And I really believe in this. But it’s tough to keep a track of how you are shaping as person and that’s where a journal helps. Also with me, writing stuff down shuts down those annoying voices in my head. Journalling has truly made me a more calm and centred person and I do that daily.
4) Order and moderation. They say that everything that we need to learn, to become a better human being, is taught to us in¬†kindergarten and it’s kinda true.¬†One of the most important virtues that we are taught early on is that discipline builds¬†character. If there is any skill that you need to learn, committing yourself to do it daily is the hardest part but it’s the only way something truly can be mastered. There are no hacks or shortcuts.
5) Strive to be a giver, not a taker. Honestly, I have no scientific data to back this up but I experience this everyday. The more generous you are to others, in terms of expressing gratitude, your time/undivided attention and love to others, the universe pays you back many times more. Love yourself, love others and you shall also be loved. But my dears, never feel sorry for yourself for self-pity is the lowest form of human emotions.
That’s pretty much what I wanted to speak to you about right now.
Again, all of us are extremely proud of how you have shaped up to be fine adults. 
May god give you the guidance, courage and wisdom to become the best version of yourself.
I’d be very happy to keep speaking to you and sharing ideas, so that we can keep learning from each other.
Love,
Nakul
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Show must go on..

(This is what I shared with my team, at work, during my farewell)

Wow, this is happening. 
It has been exactly 3 years (I joined the eCom team) and I think these 3 years have changed me significantly. 
So, rather than giving you any advice I want to share something more poignant and personal. 
Just a disclaimer – I will not be politically correct but I shall be honest. Maybe a bit too honest but let’s see..
I think we live in the most exciting times and it’s amazing what all we can do with tech but this is also a time where we are most vulnerable emotionally, no matter where you look you feel as if ‘har koi apni life mein macha raha hai!’ Everyone seems to be doing exceedingly well professionally, people are getting married, married people are having babies and those kids are winning every competition!’
And I was exactly like this, constantly comparing myself to everything and kicking myself internally. It was more of self-beating than being aware. 
So, what I started doing about 4 years back was writing these thoughts down on paper
– What am I feeling?
– Why am I feeling this?
– What should I do?
And after months of this daily practice and reading about some of my heroes (like Benjamin Franklin, Fredrik Nietzsche, Swami Vivekananda, Stephen Fry) I came to the realisation that to stay really satisfied with your life, I should focus on Input KPIs (how I should conduct my thinking and behaviour) rather than focussing on output KPIs (like my rating, our how many vacations I and my wife are taking) and I wrote down my personal values. 
Again, these were 10 principles which still are like my life compass. I say it to myself daily and emulate/practice that everyday in every moment. 
I won’t bore you by talking about all these 10 values but I’d like to share the crux in 3 points.¬†
1) First one is that before anything – I should just accept myself the way I’m and be more self-compassionate. This is the equivalent of airline announcement that ‘doosro ki sahayata se poorv, apna mask pehen le’. You can’t help others if you don’t love yourself first.¬†
2) Second is that I need to amicable to my family and friends – good natured, courteous, friendly. Quote that resonates with me is “The kindest thing that you can do for people whom you care is to become a happy, joyous person”. Irrespective of whatever I’m going through, doesn’t give me the right to be rude to my family or my colleagues (I don’t have many friends). And at the same time, self-pity is the worst emotion. If I feel sorry for myself, no one will talk to me.¬†
3) Third one and I will cram all 7 plvalues to this one is that Discipline is the most important virtue. It builds character. Whatever I resolve to do (be it exercising daily or learning piano or learning how to code) is not a difficult task but ensuring that I do it everyday is the tough task. And that’s what matters.¬†
So, that’s what I wanted to share.¬†
If I was ever rude or said something that I shouldn’t have, it was probably your mistake!
And I wanted to thank each and everyone of you, for I’ve gained much much more from you all and become (probably) a better version of what I was 3 years back.¬†
 So, have fun, keep doing cool shit and keep learning. All the best!

It’s not as bad as it looks..

9 Apr, 2018
Hi Susan,
I got to know that you were recently diagnosed with a lifestyle problem and wanted to exchange notes.
Well, i’m no medical expert and all I can offer you are some of the guidelines basis which I and my wife have been able to manage my condition. These are in no way perfect but I surely have become more mentally resilient and have been able to cope up with my condition.
And let me also admit it out rightly that I will state harsh realizations, please don’t misread me but this narrative will not be politically correct.
But I will be honest.
  1. Yes, this happened to me and I first need to understand this: I always used to think that I’ve all the time in the world. And the first news of diagnosis knocks your socks off! It didn’t at first as I was in Denial. But it did came to me – that there is something that is seriously wrong with me and the first thing for me to do is to learn more about what caused this and what are the options out there.
  2. (I tried to) not panic and did my research beforehand: I did my first research on my own which in hindsight played out good as speaking straight to people, with myself lacking basic appreciation would have only confounded me. I gave myself time for doing basic research, around 2-3 days of full attention. I refrained from reading any magazine articles that offer silver bullet benefits rather I read published research papers from medical¬†industry¬†or peer reviewed papers where the methodology sounded non-biased. The output of my research was as 4 page word document where i’d captured what happens in my condition (pathophysiologically and symptom-wise), what are the triggers and what are the treatment/management options
  3. I identified the best expert and took an appointment: This was perhaps most important because most of us are not doctors and consulting a doctor is the first step towards fixing yourself. I was lucky to get an appointment in a week and before the appointment I made a list of my symptoms. My doctor really appreciated this as doctors find it extremely helpful when patients can explain the full trend of symptom log. What followed next was a barrage of tests. After the tests came, I discussed my diagnosis and prognosis with my doc.
  4. I didn’t take a second opinion, which was a mistake: My doc has excellent credentials and i somehow got disillusioned with authority bias. In hindsight, I¬†should’¬†ve spoken to¬†at least¬†another industry expert, which I did later. The realization that I got was that western¬†medicine¬†is extremely good at crisis¬†management¬†but eastern¬†medicine¬†is more sustainable and gentler on body.
  5. I tried a therapy with full devotion and later switched: It was as 3 month course of a strong medication that I blindly trusted my doc with. I started listening carefully to my¬†body¬†and¬†soon¬†realized¬†that¬†the¬†relief was only symptomatic¬†and¬†there were¬†quite¬†severe side¬†effects. After reading some published research and discussing with my doc, I didn’t go for an extension of the drug course. Instead I embarked on another treatment of managing my condition by functional medicine: diet and exercise. This time I reached out to multiple experts and started on a protocol.
  6. I still keep questioning my choices: There is a interesting concept called Half Life of Facts Рalmost all we regard as proven knowledge, gets debunked faster than we can ever imagine. This is extremely relevant in medical parlance as well. So, I do approach my beliefs with healthy dose of skepticism.
  7. I continuously¬†force myself to become a more joyous and a more giving person towards my dear ones: What you are going through is probably more difficult for your dear ones as they don’t live inside your head. The worst thing I did initially was to alienate myself from everyone as I thought to myself that I’d landed myself in this situation and only I can drag myself out of it. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Being vulnerable gave me immense strength, courage and love to carry on and also grow deeper and more meaningful relationship with my partner, my family and friends – at work and otherwise
5.5 years after initiating on this path, I can say that my condition has made me a more grounded and satisfied with how I’ve shaped up.
I wish you all the courage, strength and optimism to make the right choices to chart your course out of this.
Best,
Nakul

How to spot fake news

 

Marketing-Interactive-Pic-Fake-News-700x368

So, I received this message today in morning in one of the (many) Whattsapp groups.

It is a detailed message with proper formatting, which makes it sound credible.

But as I’d a couple of free minutes in morning (and this topic is close to my heart I was able to identify that this is fake news.

This was the message:

Dr. Anita Simon (M. D. Pediatrician). *Finally Good News For Diabetes.*

Hope you can forward the below message to help some one who needs this info…!

A woman (65) was diabetic for the last 20+ years and was taking insulin twice a day. She used the enclosed homemade medicine for a fortnight and now she is absolutely free of diabetes and taking all her food as normal including sweets.

The doctors have advised her to stop insulin and any other blood sugar controlling drugs. I request you all please circulate the email below to as many people as you can and let them take maximum benefit from it.

AS RECEIVED :
_*DR. TONY ALMEIDA*_
(Bombay Kidney Speciality expert) made the extensive experiments with perseverance and patience and discovered a successful treatment for diabetes.
Now a days a lot of people, old men & women in particular suffer a lot due to Diabetes.

*Ingredients:*
1 – *Wheat 100 gm*
2 – *Barley 100 gm*
3 – *Black Seeds (kolunji) 100 gm*
Kolunji is *karunjeeraham* in tamil

_*Method of Preparation :*_
Put all the above ingredients in *5 cups of water*.
*Boil it for 10 minute* and put off the fire.
*Allow it to cool down by itself*.
When it has become cold, *filter* out the
seeds *and preserve water in a glass jug or bottle* .

_*How to use it?*_
Take *one small cup of this water every day early morning when your stomach is empty*.
Continue this *for 7 days*.
*Next week repeat the same but on alternate days*. With these 2 weeks of
treatment *you will wonder to see that you have become normal* and can eat
normal food without problem* .*

Note:
A request is to spread this to as many as possible so that others can also take benefit out of it.

*SINCE THESE ARE ALL NATURAL INGREDIENTS, TAKING THEM IS NOT HARMFUL. SO THOSE WHO ARE SCEPTICAL ABOUT THIS TREATMENT MAY STILL TRY IT WITHOUT ANY HARM.*

So, what are the quick give-aways?

  1. Check grammar: The message starts off by Dr Anita Simon (MD Pediatrician) with the subject: Finally good news for Diabetes!
    1. There is no medical branch called Pediatrician, it is Pediatrics and the subject should have been Good News for Diabetics not Diabetes.
  2. Check facts: Common seed has three parts: bran, endosperm and germ. The core nutrients of a seed is found in germ and some proteins/oil is in endosperm. Boiling a seed and drinking that water will only mean that you end up consuming a concentrated pesticide solution
  3. Apply common sense: The biggest fad/scam of 21st century is passing off everything as non-harmful because it is natural. This indeed is very misleading. Even organic crops are treated with pesticides and fertilisers but those chemicals are not artificially synthesised in factories.

And one final suggestion to all – most of us consume news through social media (it is all pervasive), so, don’t forward any message till you can vouch for it and also CALL OUT FAKE NEWS WHEN YOU SPOT IT!

That way you may end up helping out a lot more people.

Pic courtesy: http://www.marketing-interactive.com/journalists-in-the-philippines-fight-fake-news-on-social-networks/

 

Anxiety: my first composition!

So, a couple of days back I was watching another inane video on YouTube and the pre-roll ad had Hans Zimmer explaining how anyone can compose music.

So today, while practicing a bit suggested by Ms Emma (my piano teacher), I just stumbled upon this chord progression, which sounds like a Carry Grant as a fugitive running away from police.

I’ve titled it Anxiety!

A cynic’s judgement of New Year’s Resolutions

It’s just a change in calendar date, so, why make such a big fuss?¬†


And of course it has evolved into a massive marketing gimmick – selling hope to people who want to ‘transform’ their lives.

 

But if we dig more, we realise that the idea of ‘new year’ brings with itself the opportunities to change our habits, recalibrate our value system and reacquire the focus to move closer to our life goals, with the HOPE that we will be better this time.

 

Also, Newton’s first law of motion- Inertia, entirely applies to humans.¬† It is so convenient to push our self-acknowledged, detrimental habits till end of the year with the HOPE that next year will make us more gritty. And we will stay on the path that will get us closer to our goals.

 

So essentially, last week of a month becomes an exercise which makes us more self-aware- a time for some introspection where we acknowledge how blessed we are and what additional necessities we lack to make our lives complete.

 

In such a case, New Year Resolution is a useful exercise! It helps us to understand ourselves better, make us aware of our blessings and point us to direction where we can do more.

 

My new year’s resolution for 2018:

1) Stick to my value system. Read it to more often to self.

 

2) Do more of things that make me more content – music, reading, learning.

 

3) Focus more on my health and well-being.

 

True Friends

True friends are like a strong cup of coffee in morning, they assure that the day is going to turn out great!

True friends are like your favorite song while growing up, they remind you of good memories whenever you meet them.

True friends are like reading a good book, at some point, you both start speaking to each other.

 

True friends